Early in my career I was a personnel assistant at FMC Corporation, Northern Ordnance Division in Fridley, MN. The company had a policy that an employee would only be reimbursed for education and training if it directly related to the job they performed.
I’ve always enjoyed attending workshops and being exposed to new ideas so when a flyer crossed my desk about a day-long motivational workshop being put on at the convention center, I was all over it.
I went to the head of HR, Don Bauer and told him about the workshop and that I desperately wanted to go. “There’s only one problem” I told him, “I’m not sure if the company will pay for it and I can’t afford to go unless that happens.”
Don listened quietly until I’d talked myself out. Then he leaned forward, looked me in the eye and said, “Don’t bring me problems Linda, bring me solutions. Go figure it out. Then come back and talk to me”.
I was nonplused. I had no idea how to react so I simply walked back to my desk thinking about what he’d said. Don was right; I needed to make the connection between the benefits of the seminar and the duties of my position.
That night I started laying out my case. I wish I could say I’d been allowed to go to the workshop, but in the end Don said I hadn’t done a good enough job showing how it would benefit me in my current position.
Don’s words have served me well through the years. I worked my way up the management ladder by bringing my superiors solutions rather than problems. I’ve used them as a development tool on people who’ve worked for me.
It would have been so easy for Don to just say no. Instead his seven words changed my world and forever made me think differently about how to make things happen.